Enabling Escapes: People Smuggling, Forced Migration and Border Protection

  • Missbach, Antje (Primary Chief Investigator (PCI))
  • Palmer, Wayne (Chief Investigator (CI))

Project: Research

Project Details

Project Description

This project aims to provide a holistic account of anti-people smuggling law and policy in the Indo-Pacific region through a focus on the Indonesia-Australia corridor. As a starting point, we do not view smugglers as criminals only, but rather as facilitators of irregular journeys. Focusing on the criminal dimension of their activities often means that little attention is then paid to their economic precarity and social vulnerabilities. We also avoid the false perception that smugglers’ activities are always harmful to migrants and refugees who seek to cross borders irregularly. Avoiding these biases, we uncover both the harms and benefits associated with people smuggling and activities intended to suppress it.


The project uses a mixed method approach to collect and analyse the data, including formal interviews with smugglers, their asylum-seeking passengers, and law-enforcement officers, as well as participant observation in courts. It combines these qualitative sources of data with quantitative analysis of other primary sources, such as police reports, prosecution and conviction data.


In addition to the already-published related outputs, we are working on a monograph, which is the first full-length study of the impacts that anti-people smuggling and Australian border protection has had in Indonesia.

Funding awarded to Bina Nusantara University
Amount awarded Rp 50,000,000
Effective start/end date6/06/1629/02/20